If You Were a Private Investigator…

Earlier this year, I featured the talented writer Marja McGraw on this website. You might remember that Marja and I have both written novels that include the tangled web of family, friends, treasure, and (of course!) murder.

Read our work and you’ll see we’ve taken a different approach to our tales. My series is set in the Ozarks, for example, while Marja’s work is rooted in Arizona, California, and other points west. I have an amateur sleuth who runs a boarding kennel and dog training business, while Marja’s Sandi Webster mysteries features a private investigator.

Marja Author Photo New_edited-1That brings us to this week’s guest post, written by my colleague, Marja McGraw. To celebrate the recent release of the audio edition of  A Well-Kept Family Secret we’re giving away copies to two lucky winners! All you have to do is leave a comment for a chance to win.

There are two ways to leave a comment here. The easiest way is to click on the title of this post and then scroll all the way to the bottom of the page that opens. You’ll see the comments already posted, and below that you can add your own. The second way is to click on “Comments” in the line below the “Posted in” section at the very end of the post.  If you run into difficulty posting a comment here, please drop by my Facebook Author page or Marja’s Facebook Author page and leave a comment. We’ll keep track of all the entries–wherever they’re posted–and draw the winners on November 24th. Be sure to bookmark this page and check back!

If You Were a Private Investigator, Would You Take This Case?

For just a few minutes, let your imagination run away with you. What type of case might pique your interest if you were a private investigator? Imagine it involved a situation that occurred a very long time ago. I mean so long ago that there are no survivors from that era.

What if someone came to you and asked you to solve a mystery that took place over one hundred years ago? Let’s say it’s a crime that took place in the late 1800s and you have no idea how to solve it.

Now I want you to add a degree of difficulty. What if the person who wanted you to solve the crime was your menopausal mother? Let’s say your mother could be unrelenting because the incident involved an ancestor. Would you take the case? Don’t forget, you’ve got other clients to take care of no matter how much your mother pushes you.

I grew up hearing stories about a great-great-grandfather, who along with another man, ran the Red Light District in Old Los Angeles and who was notorious throughout the Southwest. These weren’t your typical Grandpa stories. He wasn’t a nice man.

Curiosity made me do a little research about him and Old Los Angeles. I found some interesting information which made me dig a little deeper. Then I read an article in the newspaper about the old District being dug up when a new parking lot was to be installed at Union Station in Los Angeles in the 1990s.

Aha! I contacted Adrian Praetzellis of Sonoma College, the lead archaeologist involved in the research of this area. He turned out to be a fountain of information and sent me a CD that included both information about the Red Light District and Old Los Angeles in general.

Things fell into place for me and I knew I had to write a mystery about the past and include a man with little conscience. A Well-Kept Family Secret found its way into my imagination.

A Well Kept Family Secret Audio

There were so many possibilities, and I was able to include little snippets of history. In 1903 the infamous Carrie Nation led a march of reformers into the Red Light District. She lectured women in the area, and several even seemed to listen to her. She’d been arrested a few days earlier during one of her marches for “parading without a license”, and left shortly after her visit to the Red Light District. Who knew? My image of her was one of her holding an axe and marching on saloons. The District was located in the old Chinatown area. Little things help set the scene.

Back to using your imagination, how could you possibly solve a murder that took place so many years ago? Could you positively prove your relative didn’t commit the murder? You never know where research might lead you.

Oh, and there’s the added element of hidden riches in the story, which was loosely based on a family legend. Word has it that my great-great-grandfather hid gold and silver coins worth a lot of money somewhere in Los Angeles. I found a newspaper article about people still searching for it as late as the 1940s.

Have I piqued your interest or imagination yet? Read about it in A Well-Kept Family Secret, or better yet, listen to the story in audio book format. With people’s busy lives today, an audio book can be a treasure.

Leave a comment for a chance to win an audio book!

Visit Marja’s Website: http://www.marjamcgraw.com/

Check out her blog: http://www.marjamcgraw.blogspot.com/

Buy books: http://tinyurl.com/m8s6uux

13 thoughts on “If You Were a Private Investigator…

  1. Marja, I really enjoyed this book. I’m intrigued by the idea of the missing treasure! Is anyone in your family (or anyone else, for that matter!) searching for the silver and gold now?

    • Thank you, Susan. I’m sure members of my family have thought about it, but no. I’ve mentioned the treasure in a couple of other blogs, but I don’t know if it’s inspired anyone to look for it or not. I know it wasn’t found at Union Station, at least in the parking lot. : )

  2. Marja,
    Great post! I absolutely love all of the books in your Sandi Webster mystery series. But my two favorites are “A Well-Kept Family Secret” and “Old Murders Never Die.”
    Since I already own all of your books, you can remove my name from the giveaway. That gives someone else a better chance to enjoy the book as much as I did. 🙂

  3. I have no talent when it comes to writing, but I love to read/ listen to, good cozy mysteries. I have added all the books to my read list, they look very interesting and great fun. Thanks for sharing your special talent.

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